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 ODD Hires Bond Attorney, Approves Feasibility Study

Photograph: St. Landry Parish Economic Development Director Bill Rodier listens to discussions Friday morning during a meeting of the Opelousas Downtown Development District. In the foreground is DDD member Donald D’Avy. (Photograph by Bobby Ardoin.)


BOBBY ARDOIN
Editor/Consulting Writer

The Opelousas Downtown Development took a pair of major steps Friday that allow a prospective $6.7 million Donald Gardner Stadium Phase 1 improvement and construction project to move forward.

District board members approved hiring Eric Lafleur as the bonding attorney for the project, while agreeing after some discussion to pay no more than $15,000 for a feasibility study that will be conducted by the Synergy Group.

The Synergy Group has made at least one presentation to ODD members during the past couple of months which propose to let the company assist with financing, marketing, maintaining and promoting the stadium, which is scheduled to receive refurbishing.

Capital improvements for the stadium include an eight-lane track and a football field that will undergo artificial turf upgrades.

Bonding The Money
The ODD which currently has $2.854 million in assets, has agreed to bond approximately $4.7 million for Phase 1 of the project.

Additional funding is scheduled to be received from another $2 million in city, parish and state revenues.

Lafleur told the ODD board members that any application to the State Bond Commission should include a timeline for the start of project as well as the longevity of the proposed bond obligation.

It might be financially prudent, Lafleur said, to set a 10-year payout for any bond request by the ODD. The length of the bond payments as well as the financed amount should create interest from local banks in lending the money and acquiring the bonds for the projects, said Lafleur.

ODD executive director Lena Charles said the District already has a cooperative endeavor agreement with the City of Opelousas, the parish and state.

Lafleur said the CEA agreement with all three are necessary when ODD applies to the State Bond Commission.

“The Bond Commission will want to look at the CEA and the purpose of the projects and whether there is a plan to support the amount of the debt,” Lafleur added.

Feasibility Study
Charles added later during the meeting that the ODD needs to have a feasibility study for Phase 1.

Synergy is proposing to manage the facility which is owned by the city. 

According the to synergy plan, the city would be responsible for insurance costs, utilities, landscaping and other capital improvements.

The ODD would be responsible for maintenance costs. 

In a letter to the ODD obtained by St. Landry Now.com, Synergy proposed the feasibility study.

“The feasibility study will help the opportunities the study has,” the company wrote in its proposal.

Charles denied a request by District 40 State Representative Dustin Miller to speak on the feasibility study proposal.

Miller said in a brief interview that he is not a proponent of the feasibility study since the study might delay the start of the project.